China has granted permission for a channel owned by News Corporation to broadcast directly to Chinese television audiences, the company's subsidiary STAR Group Limited announced Friday.
Phoenix Chinese Channel -- a Chinese-language channel delivered by STAR, a wholly-owned subsidiary of media mogul Rupert Mordoch's News Corp -- will be able to broadcast into the Pearl River Delta region of southern Guangdong province, STAR said in a statement.
"As a major shareholder of Phoenix, STAR is very pleased about this development. We see it as yet another milestone for Phoenix," said James Murdoch, chairman and CEO of STAR.
Murdoch also confirmed STAR was in discussions with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television and China International Television Corporation for a new channel to broadcast directly into Guangdong province.
An agreement is expected to be reached soon, the statement said.
Administration officials could not be reached for comment.
China last month said it was considering allowing News Corporation and AOL Time Warner access to cable viewers in a restricted area of Guangdong, which would amount to an unprecedented opening of the communist nation's tightly-controlled media market.
But a deal would depend on whether the firms would distribute a Chinese government-run channel, CCTV-9, in the United States, a broadcasting authority spokeswoman had said.
She hinted then that the companies would not be allowed to broadcast news and would be restricted to entertainment and cultural programs.
STAR's statement Friday did not provide further details.
International broadcasters have fought for years to gain access to the Chinese market of 1.3 billion people but have so far been banned from direct broadcast into China, apart from in upscale tourists hotels or residential compounds for foreigners.
Regular apartment buildings are restricted from setting up satellite dishes to receive the broadcasts.
News Corporation's subsidiary, STAR -- which includes the mostly movie and music program providers Phoenix Chinese Channel and Channel V -- is already allowed limited access in China, but must rely on satellite broadcasts.
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BSkyB Completes Analogue Switch-Off Ahead of Target
London - Sept. 26, 2001
British Sky Broadcasting has announced the cessation of its analogue Direct-To-Home (DTH) satellite subscription service when after 12 years of service the final three Sky channels carried on the analogue service, Sky Premier, Sky One and Sky Sports 2, will be switched off at 00:01 on September 28, 2001. The leases on the associated transponders have been terminated.
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